Category Archives: Politics

Slaying Smaug the Corrupt: Police Vetting is a Waste of Time

Every evening at my local, a police vehicle drives in and parks near the gate. No one comes out of the car. Instead, a waitress, always the same one, walks to them and has a conversation that never lasts, in my estimation, more than three minutes. Since it is a joint in the same line with several others, it’s easy to see the police vehicle move from one to the other. The ritual is always the same.

When this conversation came up during a discussion on the ongoing police vetting, it hit me that we have allowed the police force to turn into our very own Sicilian Mafia. It runs its own parallel taxation system that we have learnt to live with as long as we are left with a little to fend for ourselves or get home. It has, in turn, made police officers who earn a paltry salary millionaires many times over. We live near this cadre of the rich with their palatial homes, new cars, smart phones and disposable income made from the hard-earned sweat of those who prefer freedom to justice. It is passivity, not an omerta, that sustains this side economy.

Like the Sicilian Mafia, they collect what amounts to protection fees from any joint that has been unlucky to fall in Mututho’s scope. The good man, in trying to stop our sure destruction by the bottle, has created, enabled, and encouraged that mafia system. Each bar, wines and spirits shop and club away from Nairobi pays what might look like a paltry KShs 50 every day while those within Nairobi pay KShs 100. If there are 1000 such joints within a jurisdiction that amounts to KShs. 50, 000 per day outside Nairobi and KShs. 100, 000 per day within Nairobi. Every. Single. Fucking. Day.

This amount covers a ‘license’ to break all Mututho’s laws. Once you have paid your daily tithe you have leeway to close the place when the customers leave, not when the official closing hours end. You can sell pretty much anything, even allow drunkard parents to come to the club with their young children. No questions asked. Live and let live. Pay first though, then live.

In a week, the accounts go up to Kshs. 350, 000 and Kshs. 700, 000 outside and within Nairobi respectively. Every week. This does not include the money other groups such as boda boda riders, taxi drivers, matatus, shops that stock illegal or banned items, and such pay weekly or monthly. These amounts have to be paid religiously if one is to continue doing business within any area. The only businesses exempt from this parallel tax are those owned by members of the Mafia itself, and those owned by the powers that be.

The amount does not include the money collected from bribes by motorists and other offenders. There is a running joke among my friends that one should always include a small fee for bribes after budgeting for fuel and car service. It is impossible to be a motorist in Kenya, especially in Nairobi, without paying the powers that be, so the joke goes.

A small lapse in judgment, like speaking on the phone when the traffic has stalled, will get you within the scope of a smiling uniformed man. The moment you are flagged down, your mind doesn’t run with thoughts of prison or unimaginable fines by a magistrate. Instead, one thinks of how much disposable money is in the wallet and the car, in the MPESA account, how near the nearest ATM is.

A small estimation of how much our Sicilian Mafia is making in a week thus runs into amounts greater than KShs. 2 million per police jurisdiction. Even if we make the assumption that given the ‘taxman’s’ share, and money lost as the kickbacks move up the system, and assume each County boss is left with that KShs. 2 million per week, it means the parallel taxman is earning KShs. 94 million bob. Every week.

There are no operational costs because you and I pay for the fuel used to run this syndicate. We all see it happening but we are fraught to do anything about it. We have poured billions into slaying the ‘dragon’ of corruption, as a hapless former anti-corruption boss famously described his work. We have, it seems, failed. But we still yearn for a Nirvana where we do not pay two taxmen with the little we make.

It is probably time we started asking the moral questions. For example, one of the police bosses was taken to task on why he had received KShs. 900, 000 from David Rudisha, 800m world record holder and in, in typical Kenyan style, a police officer himself. No one has taken the athlete, who is now a strong brand himself and on numerous advertisements and commercials, to task over why he sent the money to his boss.

We like our heroes flawed, like the rest of us. With success comes great kickbacks. We all know what it was and, being the patriots we are, justify it by thinking Rudisha probably made much more than that 0.9m he paid his boss. Our reaction to public vetting should be “Hahaha, we see what you did there, guys.”

I guess the question is who holds more moral responsibility, the bribe giver who ‘only wants peace and to move on’ or the bribe take who is ‘underpaid but willing, with a little chai, to do his public duty’? Does the extent of moral responsibility even matter? I portend it doesn’t, because morality has never been our best attribute. Consumerism seems to be our most recent catch though.

Consider the fact that the ‘chai’ Eric Wainaina sang about a decade or so ago is now a full-grown racketeering system that rivals the Yakuza and the Sicilian Mafia, headed by godfathers we still pay six figure salaries to avoid taking the very bribes that fuel their cars and pay their children’s school fees. That chai system that started with fifty bobs hastily folded and put in an empty matchbox, and thrown at traffic police officers who would try to take them as inconspicuously as possible is now Smaug himself. Tolkien describes Smaug as a ‘…most specially greedy, strong and wicked dragon.” And he is growing.

Smaug: [laughs] I kill where I wish and none dare resist! I laid low the warriors of old and their like is not in the world today - then I was but young and tender, now I am old and strong! My armor is shields, my teeth swords, my tail a thunderbolt!

Smaug: [laughs] I kill where I wish and none dare resist! I laid low the warriors of old and their like is not in the world today – then I was but young and tender, now I am old and strong! My armor is shields, my teeth swords, my tail a thunderbolt!

Today, the bribe taker will openly bargain for a bigger bribe. The euphemisms of chai and kitu kidogo are no longer necessary, neither are icebreakers, this is the way of the land. Any bribe lower than 1000 bob for a traffic offense in Nairobi is considered an insult by and to the bribe taker. The cost of living has driven everything up.

If you do not have loose money to pay the agreed amount to go back to your important business, change is available in the form of 50 bobs and 100 bobs taken from earlier bribe givers. It is possible that since Smaug has now grown so big and so greedy, there are account books run by jurisdictional bosses to make sure the minions are not thieving. Because, honor among thieves.

Baggins: I did not come to steal from you, O Smaug the Unassessably Wealthy. I merely wanted to gaze upon your magnificence, to see if you were as great as the old tales say. I did not believe them.  Smaug: [strikes a pose] And do you, NOW?  Baggins: Truly songs and tales fall utterly short of your enormity, O Smaug the Stupendous...  Smaug: Do you think flattery will keep you alive?  Baggins: No, no...  Smaug: No, indeed!  Image sourced from []

Smaug: Let me tell you, I ate six ponies last night and I shall catch and eat the others before long.Image sourced from [] 

Public vetting without a thorough soaking and wringing of the little moral fabric we have left is a total waste of time. All it will do is make bribe takers more wary of leaving a paper trail and lo! and behold, a money laundering system will emerge. They will save money under the names of their spouses, children, parents, friends, hand househelps They will make purchases in cash and register them under dummy names. They will invest it in business where they know it will be long long before anyone ever catches them. They are actually already doing this.

As consumerism infiltrates the central national ethos, devolved into a burgeoning middle class with a large disposable income, the opportunities for the parallel taxation system to make money grows. More cars equals more motorists that increase the statistical possibility of multiple traffic offenders willing to pay a quick KES 500 to avoid being lost in the maze that is the Kenyan judicial system.

So, all hail the parallel taxation system. Pay your bribes and be a good Kenyan. Avoid crime and silly mistakes but if you must, be ready to oil someone to look the other way. Do not worry if you do not have enough in your pocket at the time, someone will accompany you to the ATM to withdraw the money, or even loan you some credit to call your people and get the money. They will helpfully point you to the nearest MPESA if they are actually aware of the perils of a money trail. No rush here, bribe giver, says the bribe taker, it’s not as if we are paying rent or anything, or building roads and paying teachers.

All this happens in the span of a few minutes, or a few hours, and each side appeals to the other’s sense of greed and primal survival instincts. The transaction is a marvel as the driver’s license is given back as soon as the bribe is honored (this is now a thing, by the way). It is not happening under our noses, it is happening right before our eyes and to our wallets, and we are in it, deep deep in it.

Maybe someday we will feel the itch to reclaim Erebor; to finally do something more substantial than stage a public surgery to cure a cancer so far spread that it no longer feels like a terminal illness but a way of life.

 Owaahh©, 2013  


Posted by on January 7, 2014 in Causes, Kenya, Nairobi Review, Politics


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Disaster? Cue the Looting, This is Kenya

When I saw images of Abdul Hajj, I automatically knew he was not a Kenyan cop. There was something about him that told of affluence, a man who gyms in a proper facility and eats well. Later, I bounced on an image of the cop (the unlucky thief) currently being prosecuted for looting from the dead at Westgate. It is because we pay our police so badly, I thought to myself in a moment of temporary insanity. Then, when we all knew that KDF had almost exclusive access to the mall for days, stories of looting reappeared. This time, the possible looters were not poorly paid officers but elite forces that are among the best paid employees in the country. So I hang my head in shame and sighed. We are doomed.

It is not as much as what was stolen but by whom. The police, underpaid and neglected, have a ‘social license’ similar to that we give politicians who bribe us for our votes. We think it is an abhorrence, but we have learnt to live with it. If you commit a traffic offence, for example, and are arrested, anyone will tell you not to open your wallet in the arresting officer’s field of vision. One lady did exactly that and the officer snatched the bundle of brown notes, totaling 5,ooo bob, and let her free. And so it goes.

We have so institutionalized looting that we see nothing new about it. That’s why my sentiments on Westgate looting point towards the underlying and nagging idea that with exclusive access, the military officers might have hauled away luxury watches and other valuables. Our astute forces, well paid, and provided for as much as they would want, most of it untaxed and exclusive, might have conducted one of the most blatant thefts in the history of our society. It is too soon to claim the end of the AFCO tax breaks triggered the looting, so, why would those we pay well enough to do violence on our behalf steal from us like those from whom we expect similar services but pay poorly? Does it even have anything to do with the salary and allowances or is it deeper, engrained in our hastily clobbered national genotype?

In Its Our Turn to Eat, the case is made through the Anglo leasing story that being in a position of power in Kenya is chance to loot. If you don’t do it, someone else will, goes the story. We tend to associate politicians with five year mandates with this social license to raid public coffers and behave plainly like assholes in their interactions with us common folk. We allow that, because they are elected or nominated, and are thus in a God-given electorate-legitimized position to thief for themselves and their ilk. Maybe some crumbs will fall our way, we think.

It does little to our collective national psyche and legendary apathy, and will probably be forgotten in no time, but it raises questions of a deep moral angling. Is it that we have become so used to looting, whether as participants or victims, that we can only be shocked now if it is done by those we thought above such a trivial offence? Didn’t the crowd that had to be repulsed using teargas want to access the mall even before it was secured? They had an epiphany of what the disciplined forces, bar none, would do when left alone in a upper class mall where all hell had broken lose? It seems they did.

Almost all disasters are followed by looting of some degree, so much so that one academic called it the ‘cliché of disaster journalism.’ In most cases, it is simple citizens first looting for basic stuff such as food and water (before eventually hauling luxury items, going up the Maslow pyramid) but in Kenya, the protectors are quite adept at it. Instead of appearing as astute members of the disciplined forces, as perhaps we all think of military officers, policemen tend to appear as low socio-economic players.

It happened before at JKIA and has probably happened many times prior. It is just that now that we all have and want good stuff, we are talking about it. Living in a consumerist society, you want to know that at least your valuables will outlive you, and go into your estate should you die during a terrorist siege or a traffic accident. But that comfort, friend, is denied. We will loot. We will loot from you everything on your corpse before your soul reaches the roof. Hell, if you are not dead enough to let go of your iPhone, we will help you either journey yonder or wait like vultures, until your lungs heave that last one, and away we go with all your bling and cash. Maybe your family will get your wallet. Such is not assured.

What ails our national morality then? In the cliché mentioned prior, most cases tend to be instances of horrific disasters such as Hurricanes and earthquakes. There is a desperate need to get basic utilities and, for those whose inner animal has an automatic switch, acquire nice things. Yet there is hardly ever looting in Japan.

It became a phenomenon after the earthquake and Fukushima nuclear reactor aftermath. The Japanese do not loot, and if they do, not at the scale seen in other scenes globally, even in richer societies. In most discussions of this phenomenon, most contributors argue that the Japanese culture of shame, community, and respect, has something to do with it. The consumerist culture has not managed to kill of this national conscience, and the deep respect for one another stretches to a moment of desperation. Where other countries take years to recover from a disaster, Japan’s system is efficient because it is built on a system of restraint, if not trust.

One can imagine the temptation, the fact that you are standing in front of a shop with things you have only seen on displays. There is no one to catch you, or a bigger crime (than the one you are about to commit) is being committed. Who will worry about the dead man’s phone anyway? Or how much cash he had on his person when the hooded terrorist shot him point blank? The dead do not need the money, their dependents are probably rich enough to survive without it, you think. But you do. Who will ever catch you anyway? If the police do, you will only have to forfeit a portion of it and voila, the handcuffs of justice will magically disappear. Hell, you will even get an armed escort home that day. Such is. Such is.

Our culture of looting and plundering is not epitomized by Westgate but by our reaction to it. It is the deeper sense of apathy where we figure most of the shops were insured and thus, it does not matter that their valuables were lost in a crime scene. A crime scene with layer upon layer of cordons, and a retinue of our protectors. Our protectors got rich that day, maybe they will not be too hungry when they arrest us tomorrow.

But looting feeds avarice, another of our national treasures, which in turn breeds the kind of hunger that addicts of morphine get on subsequent doses. That is why majority of the onlookers at Kenyan crime scenes are there. It is not to ask after the dead and injured but to await the slightest opportunity to carry a trophy. Drive on any road and if you come upon an accident, study closely how first responders pocket valuables while pulling people from the wreckage. Such is.

There is an actual criteria for when looting is morally permissible. In such cases as where there is actual desperation. The argument there is that in an interdependent society such as ours, everybody plays a part, however minute, to the production in and progress of society. This position thus means that in case a fair exchange of goods is not possible because of the circumstances, such as breakdown of social order after a disaster, then one is in his human right to seek basic needs from those who have. It would be, another argues, selfish of us as human beings to judge those desperately seeking to survive. Our very existence as a species would be at risk.

But there was no breakdown of social order per se at Westgate or JKIA. There was perhaps, too much order. Normal ad hoc looters do not come carrying grenades and other explosives to open safes and access ATMs. Neither do they, at least the first wave, go after the cash registers and other movable currencies. Yet that is exactly what happened at Westgate, and before at JKIA (there were no explosives here though). Systematically, responders took time off their busy schedule of protecting us to help themselves to items on the aisles and the mannequins. The clinical organization meant that even shop owners who had luckily managed to lock up their shops still suffered the same fate as those who left them wide open.

Those looting were not poor and desperate, as we would be if, say, a Hurricane were to miraculously hit Nairobi. They were in no danger of imminent hunger if they did not wear the gold chains and watches from the shops. In fact, brave Kenyans filled their cars and set camp to feed responders. There was more food where that came from, that’s for sure. All, except maybe the community policing units, receive a constant monthly salary and allowances that was still assured when and if they survived their mission there. There was no social order to warrant breaking into ATMs, or even justify it. Yet the hapless gaffe-prone Interior Cabinet Secretary will proudly downplay the significance of the crime by saying only ‘two or three shops were looted.’

In this god forsaken land we were born in, numbers shock us but hardly ever enough to make an actual difference. 1, 100 people died during the 2007/8 massacres. 40 officers died in Baragoi. Over 100 civilians died in Tana River. Another 40 died in a single bus accident. More die each day. The death toll in the Northern Frontier is so high that it does not make headline news anymore. Wajir was bombed the day after Westgate was (sic!) retaken (and bombed, for some reason). Isn’t it ironical that we should derive a lesson as ‘the death of one is a tragedy, the death of a million is a statistic’ from a diabolical dictator who massacred his people with the gun and famine? Shouldn’t it embarrass our very core as an ‘inter-religious’ but constitutionally secular (ignore the allusions of faith) in the Preamble country?

A US official recently told Museveni that his military officers are ‘good soldiers but thieves.’ Then reports appeared pointing towards Kenya’s complicity in the charcoal trade in Kismayu, the very jewel we won from its murderous rulers just last year. Do you know what that would mean if it is true that our military has been facilitating illegal business in Somalia? That we actually funded the Westgate 5 (or 15 or 20, no one seems to know how many hostiles held us in panic for over 72 hours) and all that they did. We rubber-stamped our own death by spreading the tentacles of our selfish ambition to enrich ourselves at whatever cost. Sealed our fate so our wallets could be heavier. The children will never know their education was funded with blood money. The wives will never know the red on the flower petals is blood from victims of our greed. Even if they do, they will not care much. It was not anyone they knew, they will argue, and if we had not done it, the next person would have. So why not us? Also, we prayed for forgiveness and filled the offertory.

Some might argue that from a Hobbesian perspective, looting is a way through which those who-have-not seek to bridge the class gap with those who have-yachts. But the injured driver who loses his valuables to his helpers is a man hustling as any other. Start a fire in a slum and see whether the looting of other residents has anything to do with class warfare. It is pure human greed, nothing else.

The ethics of looting depend on the facts of the subject. After 9/11, for example, firemen took water from nearby stores to rinse their eyes. When a hungry man steals from a store, then there is a moral case to let that man eat; and to make sure that he has a living so he does not have to break social norms again. In the Argentina food riots of 1989, poor women walked into stores and stole food and other basic supplies. There were no cases of looting of non-essentials and the cash registers until later when other mobs followed. But Kenya’s two recent cases are interesting and disturbing.

The looters are not desperate hungry mobs, at least not in an ad hoc sense of the word. They are organized units with a clear mandate and training to handle emergencies. Their very job description is built on the fact that their role in society is sacred. The salaries are low, the hours depressing, the populace thankless (unless it is in one of those rare occasions of national reflection), and all but hope is lost. That is still no defense for such an abhorring crime as grave robbing.

So, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Since it is their work to do that to us, to hurl us in jail if we (are caught) loot, to protect us from external threats by doing violence on our behalf, who will do it to them? In the next disaster, as one surely will come, are we to helplessly stand by as our businesses are ransacked simply because these are ‘the untouchables.’ One of the victims succinctly saidThis is Kenya. Let’s just face it, what’s lost is lost.”

It is plunder, mate, and these are times of war and uncertainty. Accept and move on. In fact, grab something from that glass window or aisle and move on with it. 

Edit, 2nd October 2013 1710hrs

Prompted by panoramicdon’s comment below, I remembered that indeed the TJRC report is teeming with testimonies of looting by our ‘esteemed’ forces. A cursory reading of the relevant volumes points towards a tradition of looting as a military strategy, a strategy of yore, the medieval days of pirates and plunder. Even sadder, looting is connected to other crimes such as rape and murder. But no commissions, if any, have ever been formed to investigate the suffering the NEP and Mt. Elgon residents went through. We are an unequal society, dear reader, and you are not invited to the looting.



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7 Most Outrageous Things Ever Done to Win in a Kenyan Election

Kenyan elections are never boring events. They are the equivalent of gladiatorial fights, complete with an arena and a euphoric audience. In fact, often, as in Rome, winners are determined by who can better use sharp objects and who can transform euphoric chants into motivation. In such an environment of blood and paper, it is often hard for anything to stand out but once in a while, something sure comes up.

#7 Hire a Militia

sunray22bWhat would a good election in Kenya be without a series of small, unacknowledged massacres and ‘ethnic displacements?’ Boring and bad for the economy, that’s what! Kenyan life revolves around elections, stopping every five years to decide on who to hate for the next five years. Its never much of a choice really, your surname pretty much tells the observer who you are voting for, but not why; the reasons are often blurry but the numbers, tyrannical. So how does a good Kenyan politician make sure he or she wins decisively, or by 2 votes, or by none, but is declared the winner? Simple! Hire a private army, a small ‘ragtag militia’ to win you the election with weed, machete, and halitosis. I don’t know about the last one, its always the image I get whenever I hear of gangs, guys with unkempt hair and no knowledge of how emancipating a clean mouth is…

Colgate, untapped market (hint, hint)

Colgate, untapped market (hint, hint)

The logic is pretty simple and begins years before an election.  In places where a majority might not be as defined as to provide the necessary tyranny of tribe, politicians employ militia to start a war against ‘the other tribe, ’ referred to as ‘madoadoa’ as recently as 2007. Not only does a private army give you clout, but it also means you never get to lose a brawl again. You get to determine who lives and who dies, who gets raped and who doesn’t, who gets to give birth and who gets to miscarry. You are the evil overlord of your small electoral conquest, ruling from behind the shadows, conveniently away from the frontlines to not die in the counter attacks but always making sure your troops pass the message. If we didn’t know better we would think you a deity.

Pick any multiparty Kenya elections and someone somewhere had a militia ‘campaign’ for him or her. Tribal politics have led to ‘tribal clashes’ during elections which begun in earnest with the 1992 ethnic cleansing strategy in the Rift Valley, Baghdad Boys in Kisumu, the Kaya Bombo raiders and other militia in 1997, Mungiki in 2002 (when both leading candidates were from one tribe) and then hit a climax in 2007. Jeshi la Mzee, Jeshi la Embakasi, Nganda Nyenze’s ‘Ndeteleka Group’ and other ‘private armies’…the list is so long that one needs to only point to a spot on the map of Kenya to locate a place where a militia exists or has been. All the ones mentioned in this previous list were at some point used to win someone an election.

Up until now, every militia in Kenya has been constituted on ethnic and gender lines; can’t a good militia also be an equal opportunity employer.

#6 Bring in the Mossad?

Not pictured: Said spy agency...

Not pictured: Said spy agency…

It is impossible to say enough bad things about Moi, formerly Citizen #1 without using all possible negative adjectives. Never has one man does so much evil in less than quarter of a century, oh, scratch that, the man has peers.

To be fair to the man, Kenya was never much of a country to begin with, just a small country with cobbled up diverse groups that had to learn to share a national cake that belonged to the 1 percent. Other than its strange borders and rampant avarice, Kenya had had more than a few massacres already. The national numbness was (still is) a dictator’s dream and the women wore miniskirts to church….the good old days.

 Upto 1990 at least, Kenyan elections had been simple cases of who was the better sychophant. Moi opposed multipartyism vehemently, even going as far as having his VP at the time, Kibaki, fence sitter extraordinaire and the slowest Head of State ever (Paraplegics do not count in this comparison) make sure ‘one-partyism’ waslaw; arguing that it would bring tribalism and division. When he realized that couldn’t win, he jumped onto that train-the tribalism one, although he had always been on it- like a boss, in fact he was the boss.

Lets go vote...

Lets go vote…

The earliest attack in the lead up to the 1992 elections was an attack in October 1991 on members of the Luo ethnic farm in Meitei farm in South Nandi District. Over 300, 000 were displaced in the resulting attacks and counter-attacks. KANU blamed the clashes on the opposition, and the latter blamed it on the former, then everyone went back to their Muthaiga homes and laughed maniacally.

The never-released (at least officially) Kroll report (Thanks Assange, hope you get some sun soon) suggests that the 1992 clashes were the work of Moi’s right hand man at the time, the ‘Total Man’- whose feeble attempts at clearing his name are often hilarious- and ridiculously expensive. More specifically, one of the Total Man’s ‘business’ associates, a Mr. Danny Vardi. said to be the same guy behind the disappearance of key Dr. Robert Ouko murder witnesses. Vardi is thought to have been a link to the Mossad although the claim is largely unsubstantiated-but given how unsure we are about the truth in what we know, not entirely implausible.

#5 Rape your Opponent?

Immediately after the 2013 elections, the Kenya Women Parliamentary Association accused some unnamed male aspirants of using threats of sexual violence to force the female candidates to back down. While they did not name and shame the misogynists, their assertions were not new…or even surprising.

Elections in Kenya have always been more testosterone than adrenaline, more where the meat comes from than if it is even safe for consumption. In such a state of cultural misogyny, political office is seen as a man’s world, and the few women who have balls (I had to) to run for any office find themselves the targets of attacks and sometimes…rape and death threats.

The current levels of intimidation of female candidates in multi-party Kenya can be traced back to 1992 (again, this must have been the year of all shenanigans) when the political stakes went beyond simply being friends with Mwananchi #1-and throwing yourself prostate whenever he was around. Before 1992, if the Big Man said you were running, you were running, and winning, gender being inconsequential. From 1992 however, it was open season. Everyone woke up one day and realized would never be any progress without getting female candidates. The resulting interest in female candidates ‘threatened men’ when their campaigns drew mammoth crowds, the commonest way of gauging how effective your witchdoctor was. So politics went to the strays, predictably.

“ For a good part of the campaign period, the media reported some of the most unlikely election tales. Married women candidates were accused of neglecting their families for personal gains. Widows were accused of having been the cause of their husbands’ deaths. Divorced women were accused of having loose morals.”

The TJRC Report, Volume 2A p 736, 86 contains an excerpt on unnamed female candidate who tells the story of how she was raped and beaten by a group of thugs who told her that she ‘troubling men.’ She says “One of them suggested that they leave because I was not proud. Then another one asked what they were going to say. That is when I realized that they had been sent.”

You think we left this curse in the 1990s? That TJRC witness is talking about the 2007 elections and the KWPA was talking about events of less than three months ago…and a related one from 2013.

#4 Outsource Witchcraft

No African election is complete without a half-dressed guy sitting on your head-and presumably farting on your face as he utters incantations and makes you regret going for aromatherapy. He also has to make you eat peppery things as he jumps around you and yells things to ‘bless the ballot’ and make you ‘invincible at the vote.’ If you are not sitting on a three-legged stool in a smoky hut talking to a guy who does not shower much, then you are probably doing it wrong. If you have a smoky hat and a three-legged stool and are not already advertising services for the byelections, you are also doing it wrong.

There is a sequel by the way...its called Handkerchief 2.

There is a sequel by the way…its called Handkerchief 2.

A few days before the last elections, Moses Wetangula, then a candidate for Bungoma Senator, claimed that he had concrete evidence that his rival was using witchcraft to ‘bind voters’ and “do funny things at various venues.” The funny implied here being not ‘funny ha-ha’ but ‘funny hhhmmm WTF?’  While it is almost impossible to ignore the BDSM connotations in the choice of descriptors of said goal of witchcraft, it turns out that the ‘witchdoctors’ in question had been outsourced from a West African nation. We have all watched enough Naija films to know that a handkerchief, with the right amount of magic, can get a personality and an evil, almost electrical laugh followed by exclaims and unnecessary handclapping.

The candidate in question was Musikari Kombo [he outed himself to clear the rumor that he was part of said BDSM] who clarified that the alleged witchdoctors  in question were actually Nigerian MPs. He said that the MPs had accompanied him during his campaign rallies (and implied that West African legislators cannot good withcdoctors make… Naija filmmaker, over to you). It turns out witchdoctors might be one of our largest expatriate population for the duration of the polls. Tanzania is kind enough to furnish us with the much needed expertise, and if the advertisements nailed to the few remaining trees all over Kenya are anything to go by, being a Tanzanian witchdoctor is an added advantage.

But its not all lost, just last year, 105-year-old John Dimo predicted that Obama would win re-election and surprise surprise, BO won! Who would have thought? Maybe this thing works guys, but can it be used to choose a wife?

I am become Gallup yawa!

I am become Gallup yawa!

In one scene in the two part-video above (and below), the witchdoctors’ rate Dennis Okari’s chances of victory (his star is “…at 35 and it needs to be at 58…). Does anyone know the criteria for this rating, maybe it is more reliable than our opinion polls but then again, the witchdoctors in the expose never figure out that Okari is the same Okari on TV. Wait, what’s that? Maybe they too do not watch KISS TV? Oh, yes, no one does…

 I am not sure how the ass-sniffing is necessary, but I would go for the being carried around and jumping over horns. It looks like good fun for the man and for the heart.

#3 Mlolongo System- The Dick-Measuring Contest

Why is that guy even impatient, its not like the queue is supposed to move...

Why is that guy in the middle even impatient, its not like the queue is supposed to move…

Entry #6 up there already discussed how we should blame Moi for all that ails this badly drawn map. Still, if you think the man did his worst in and after the 1992 elections then you probably do not know about the joke that was the 1988 KANU elections. KANU was ‘chama cha baba na mama’ and the symbol of the party was (and still is), the cock, or cockerel, if we insist on writing the long version to avoid the hilarious ambiguity. Since winning the KANU nomination was winning the election outright, there was a lot of haggling and murdering and bribing whenever the nomination elections were held. There was also comparing Mwalimu #1 with the Christ in Christian and letting him know that he was your monarch through and through.

The Mlolongo voting system was a queue system where party members lined up behind the photographs of their preferred candidate. These elections were actually part of a larger plot; on February 5, 1988, Moi had announced the release of nine political prisoners followed quickly by a snap general election on March 12 that he christened the ‘big broom.’ The National Assembly had been expanded from 158 to 188 seats with 12 members appointed by the Father of the Nation, the man with the wand. Any candidate who won 70 percent of the nomination would go straight to the August House. for the water.

Dramatization…voting for the water.

The idea behind this seemingly bad joke is that, ideally, the candidate with the longest queue wins the nomination and thus, the elections. It is sort of like how young boys choose opposite teams before a football match, only this were the actual elections. You can see the returning officers coming out of their stuffy offices, shielding their eyes from the sun to ‘see far’, and then declaring someone the winner right?

Like all dick-measuring contests, it turned out that length wasn’t the only thing you needed, the girth of your queue, and presumably vigor of your sychophancy, also played a part.

“KANU made sure that whoever it wanted was the winner –long queue, short queue, it didn’t matter.”

If the line above does not sound like the typical dong-measuring contest then I don’t know what does. It was the same the election that gave us the professor of mathematics and the man with his legs on both sides of the political divide, both former vice presidents, both dead, one politically, the other literally and politically.

#2 Stage a Fake Kidnapping


In 1997, Uhuru Kenyatta (Now Landlord of the Nation) was a thin young man with a bad taste in suit jackets and zero knowledge about why you should wear your party colors during a campaign. His mismatched suits were just beginning to feel the pressures of being a feudal prince with a dynasty to propagate. Despite his otherwise unappealing prospects, Mkenya #1, HE Daniel, had seen something in him (dynasty!) that no one else, including the State House operatives, had not.

So Moses Muihia, UK’s erstwhile rival for the Gatundu South seat was more than just a simple parliamentary candidate, he represented the hopes and dreams of those who wanted to quash UK’s political brand. This was a typical Kenyan election, you could kill the man’s supporters, begin a tribal war, hire the Mossad, or even simply pay off the man to quit, but why would you when several pints of blood and a river could do the trick? If there is a medal for this kind of thing then these guys deserve one, a podium finish, even if they are the podium.

Well, 1997 was a different time, there was no internet in Kenya just yetand news was still pretty much oral…read, spread by the single guy in the village who could afford the newspaper. UK was a strong candidate alrightand he had the support of Mkulima #1. Working with the knowledge that Moi was running in his last elections-which he had already won even before the ballot papers were printed-his Kitchen cabinet decided to frustrate the young prince’s chances of succeeding him.

Nothing to see here, just winning an election is all...

Nothing to see here, just winning an election is all…

So they hired a group of former University of Nairobi’s student leaders to make sure the young prince lost the election…on election day!

Muihia was ‘kidnapped’ in a stage-managed plot that included plunging a car into River Thiririka and pouring some pints blood (from a nearby slaughterhouse) into the river. Then the town crier-equivalent made sure everyone knew about the ‘kidnapping’ of the Kenyatta rival. What did the voters do? Of course they voted for the guy whom they thought dead or kidnapped, a concept known in sham democracies as a ‘protest vote.’ At 2 pm the ‘victim’ appeared conveniently and told voters (who had just voted for him) that he was still alive. He had already won the election…and added to the infamy of Comrade University,

Fake kidnapping, winning unwinnable battles for men since forever...

Fake kidnapping, winning unwinnable battles for men since forever…

#1 Amend the Constitution!

The age-old adage "Constitutions are paper, bros are forever"

The age-old adage “Constitutions are paper, bros are forever”

While Kenyatta the Elder had his failures, this entry will show that if nothing else, he was the best wingman a man could ever have. The wingman, as described in the Bro Code, is a sacred role that is occupied by only those who can handle such responsibility. It turns out that if you’re the successor to the Queen, you can make quite the wingman… Plus, who knew the Bro Code is greater than a country’s constitution?

During the 1974 elections, Paul Joseph Ng’ei prevailed upon his rival, Henry Muli, to withdraw from the race. Muli later filed an election petition against Ngei’s win claiming that “… he (Ngei) had bound Kangundo voters to back him by administering an oath.” The high court ruled that Ngei had indeed committed the electoral offence, nullified his win and disqualified him from the consequent by-election. When he realized that this meant he couldn’t eat at five star hotels and point the waitresses to State House when they presented him with the bill, he turned to the man who still owed him a lifetime of favors.

Hhhhmmmm...what do you mean the constitution is sacred too? The Bro Code is sacred!

Hhhhmmmm…what do you mean the constitution is sacred too? The Bro Code is sacred!

Mzee, ever the Lannister, made Njonjo and Moi (who had been part of the efforts to ‘finish’ Ngei politically) come up with a solution that had to be passed by Parliament in 12 hours. Since Parliament was scheduled to go for recess, the Head of State and Government, Landlord of the Nation and Protector of the Tribe declared that the recess was conditional; they could only go if they enacted the amendment…which they did with Moi proudly declaring “I support this amendment because we know that the President is above the law…” He would know. 

Ngei’s hold over the Man with the Fly Whisk is said to have begun at Kapenguria where he saved the man from getting beaten by his jailers several times, and even foiled Kariuki Chotara’s assassination attempt on the future president. When a man saves your life and even takes a beating for you in prison, that man owns you! He can walk into your compound anytime and eye any of your wives, and the implied Bro Code demands that you must comply. Ngei spent most of his time cashing in this blank cheque and pissing everyone off, once taking a Mercedes from a showroom and refusing to pay for it (aaaahhh…the good old days). He ‘test-drove’ it for 20 years.

The result? Constitutional Amendment Act. No. 1  of 1975, or as it is colloquially known, the Ngei Amendment. This seemingly harmless amendment extended the presidential prerogative of mercy to include annulment of the result of an electoral court (where an offence had been proven).

Even more proof that this is the most outrageous thing ever done to win an election? As soon as the amendment had served its purpose (annulling the nullification of Ngei’s election), it was repealed..presumably so no one could abuse it, no one else at least [sic!].

“[O]nce demagogy and falsehoods become routine, there isn’t much for the political journalist to do except handicap the race and report on the candidate’s mood.” 
― George Packer

 Owaahh, 2013.


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7 Most Brutal and Elaborate Militia in Kenya’s History

In Kenya, the name for a group of youth organized to do so something outrageous shifts from ‘militia’ to ‘gang’ to ‘vigilante’, and back, depending on when you are assessing it and who is paying you at the time.

Gangs gain political angles, or political militia become gangs, vigilantes are used by politicians and businessmen, generally, everyone sleeps with everyone, and the fact that we have not been killed by one group or the other, or its splinter groups, or the ‘strayed bullets’ by now is a total surprise and a proof that if there is indeed a God, then He or She must be confusion.

#7 Sungu Sungu

Sungu Sungu

In its truest sense, ‘sungusungu’ is a term rather than a single criminal gang.The escalation of insecurity is often how gangs and mob units form, and eventually morph into militia and mafia-type groups made of young boys who just need to get laid. The funny this is that the sungusungu do not have a single known chain of command or structures. This might be a farce though because the group had offices and of course, police support, in Kisii town because, what is running a gang without an office? Ask Al Capone…

The Sungu Sungu had existed before 2002 at least as vigilantes, but finally morphed into brutal gangs over the years. They were most famous for lynching suspected criminals and burning suspected witches. Residents of villages and estates still contribute to finance the operations of the sungusungu as volunteer patrols, and you know, to torch witches and commit extrajudicial and targeted killings on their behalf.

The Sungu Sungu are actually one of a set of three ‘criminal gangs’ centered in Kisii that regularly feature on lists of proscribed groups-the other two being the chinkororo and the amachuma. Chinkororo translates to ‘We will rain on you’ and is either the most chilling threat ever packed in a criminal group or simply a case of misunderstood raindrops. They are traditional warriors of the Kisii community, like the famous Morans of the Maasai community. Traditionally, the Chinkororo would mobilize in times of ethnic conflict to protect the Abagusii families of Borabu and Gucha districts. They did-admittedly, engage in cattle rustling ‘to compensate those whose livestock is stolen’ because, what is a good tribal warrior without a few stolen cattle?

The amachuma were a curious addition to the government ban on criminal gangs because they are not a gang, and they do not even exist. ‘Amachuma’ might be from the slang ekegusii word for ‘metal’ -‘richuma’- that ‘loosely translates to village tough.’ Amachuma is the plural for richuma and is not really a gang, but a specific cadre of youth, like saying ‘’ unemployed youth.’ . So, the government has banned unemployment and juvenile delinquents? Such an effective government.

#6 Mungiki

Perhaps the poster child of Kenyan criminal gangs, militia, and vigilante, the Mungiki were not known givers of fucks, although they were generous with the machete. They are the Kenyan Mafia, the Cosa Nostra, the Yakuza of Kenya. Mungiki emerged in the 1980s as something of a gang that combined criminal vigilante activities with cultural preservation. In the 1990s, the group moved most of its operations into Nairobi, gradually taking over the running of protectionist rings  and racketeering in slums, middle-class suburbs and most importantly, running matatu terminus. 

The Mungiki are highly structured: The national overall structure is broken down into a defined cell structure, each divided into five platoons of 10 people each. Even with this, the actual hierarchy remains largely unknown outside the group and of course, the complicit police. The political wing and mouthpiece of the group, the Kenya National Youth Alliance (KNYA), has since gone underground.

The name Mungiki probably comes from ‘muingi’ or ‘Kiama kia Muingi’ which means ‘a united people’ or ‘The party of the multitude/masses’ and which was what the Mau Mau was originally known as before all the propaganda. The Mungiki styled itself as the modern version of the Mau Mau, advocating for cultural rites such as circumcision for both male and females, and complete with a blood-oathing ceremony.

The Mungiki dabbled in politics and backed KANU in 2002, specifically Uhuru Kenyatta, now Fourth President of the Republic, as the presidential candidate.They were furnished with ten military land rovers ostensibly because they had important places to be. The NARC government discovered the link about a month into power, and Internal Security minister at the time, Chris Murungaru, asked the then Chief of General Staff Joseph Kibwana to investigate because you best investigate yourself, sir! After Uhuru Kenyatta lost, the gang’s power waned. Imagine what would have happened had he won…oh wait…

The first real attempt to break up the group in 2003 was a raid that ended up being two full days of clashes with the police in Mathare slums and other places.50 people had died in Nairobi in 2002 during clashes pitting matatu owners against the sect. In June 2007, the gang embarked on another campaign, beheading defectors, conductors, matatu drivers, and killing almost indiscriminately. The retaliation campaign led to over 10 extrajudicial killings by the police in Mathare alone.  In July 2007, members of the sect/gang/militia killed a two-year old, decapitated and mutilated the body in what is thought to have been ritual killing   In the 2007/8 civil unrest they were back with a bang, because the Mungiki are not people to miss a tribal cleansing party!

There have been stories of 500 bodies discovered in thickets, male genitalia being found hanging in town centers, and forced circumcision of members of the Luo community, and women.

Mungiki’s tentacles, like those of the Cosa Nostra and any mafia organization worth the name, are thought to have stretched beyond central province and even Kenya. One notable case is the gruesome murders of Jane Kuria and her two daughters in the US. Jane’s husband had died in 2001, after which she moved to the US and sought asylum saying that she and her children were in danger of being forcibly circumcised. The link might have been a fluke, but not completely implausible given the financial might of the group over the years.

In 2009, Mungiki leader Maina Njenga was released from prison and acquitted of murder charges. A week later, David Gitau Njuguna, the charismatic Mungiki and KYNA spokesperson, was shot dead on River road, in broad daylight, by obviously not the police. Another famous Mungiki leader, Ndura Waruinge, renounced the sect and converted first to Islam and changed his name to Ibrahim, then to Christianity and changed his name to Hezekiah perhaps intending to wash his settle his sins with all possible deities, the ultimate Pascal’s Wager.

The gang has since gone underground, and splinter groups such as Wailer and Thaai, which are already emerging as equally brutal gangs.

#5 Taliban


As the divisive Mungiki permeated through Nairobi slums, members of the Luo tribe living in Nairobi slums formed their own defensive vigilante gangs. Known as The Taliban, the gang obviously morphed beyond its initial intent. Other than choosing a name that carries connotations of Islamists who do not like it when women go to school, the Taliban are often referred to as ‘a Christian group.’ To confuse the deities of course… They viewed the Mungiki as ‘moral savages’ more so for the act of forcibly circumcising people than for killing Kenyans for sport.

The Taliban followed the Mungiki business and the business-of-cutting-heads model, extortion, beat-downs, murders, illegal taxation, racketeering, and others. They also engaged in public executions, the most common being stoning a target until he or she was unable to walk, and then burning them alive. Remember the famous photo from the 2007/8 civil war where a group of men are holding a dreadlocked man as another drives a machete into his skull? Well…

Let me save you the trouble...

Let me save you the trouble…

It is sort of what happens in Afghanistan and Iran, what did you expect? In the 2007 PEV, the Taliban emerged as the vigilante defense against the ethnic cleansing (or for, if you were a member of the other tribe) that was taking place while the government was meeting to decide who to blame. The Taliban once tried to blow up a bridge that connects the ‘Kikuyu area’ with the ‘Luo Area’ in Area 3 proving once again that in any way, you should go for the jugular, but you should not.

The Taliban began as an offshoot of the Baghdad Boys, the original grouping that was ‘the Luo tribe’s answer to the Mungiki’. The Baghdad Boys of Kisumu emerged in the early 1990s around the same time as the Gulf War, which might explain the choice of name. They were used widely in the 1992 and 1997 elections. The group later disbanded into several factions, with Taliban being the biggest and most influential. Other splinter gangs include ChinaSquad and ‘American Marines.’

The are many other offshoots of the Baghdad Boys, the most notable being Nyalenda Base, the Chief Squad, Nyamasaria Massive, Kenda Kenda, Kondele Bagdad for Peace (Who do we sue for misleading the public?), Karamojong Boys, Saba Saba, Artur Margaryan (because…why not), Kebago

#4 Ngoroko Anti-Stock Theft Unit

ngoroko standard 2

In January 2013, a Joshua Waiganjo was arrested for (supposedly) posing as a senior officer. Everyone denied knowing the man but there is overwhelming evidence that everyone knew who he was. The case is tied to the Baragoi Slaughter of 40 police graduates who walked into a trap where cattle raiders used them to test their new guns and newfound wealth. The undertones, of course, pointed to Waiganjo being a member of the Ngoroko or for a more apt title, the ‘Stock Theft Unit.’

The Ngoroko was never/is not just a militia group, it was a parallel police force made up of, well, who else but police officers? Integrated into the Kenya Administration police as the Anti-Stock theft unit, the modern-day Ngoroko was formed as a private army and quasi-official police force. Sometime between 1976 and 1978, the Kiambu mafia was willing to do anything to prevent Moi (or any other non-Kikuyu) from ascending to power. Its original aim, according to the Kenyatta Succession (the book, not the joke), was to impoverish the vulnerable pastoralist people.

Its primary activities were poaching and cattle rustling but it moved to assassination hits, carjacking, bank robberies, money laundering, gunrunning, protectionist rings, import, and escort of pirate loot, drug trade, takeover of Mungiki areas, and electoral malpractices. If there is any police unit that knows where Felicien Kabuga really is, then it is these guys. They are like a conglomerate for all things illegal.

Ngoroko was first used in reference to the ‘armies of heavily armed bandits’ who emerged in Northern Kenya, especially the area from the Ilemi Triangle into the Pokot and Turkana districts. The Ngoroko used AK 47s procured from Sudan and Somalia to raid each other and re-raid each other after they were raided for first raiding the other communities. That was before the first militia was trained by Rift Valley police Chief James Mungai, the same guy who slapped Moi twice in front of Kenyatta and once carried out a strip search and home raid after Moi came back from an overseas trip. The first target? Moi of course because if you are going to kill someone, it might as well be the Vice President at the time.  They were said to have been armed with silenced weapons, and only missed him because he was ‘sneaked past Nakuru.’ They were running roadblocks on the highway as they whistled and waited to give Moi several bullets because, they were generous.

#3 Sabaot Land Defense Force (SLDF)

sourced from

sourced from

Perhaps the most memorable guerrilla groups in recent years, this militia group focused its activities in the Mount Elgon Area. Formed in 2005, the SLDF’s activities and the ensuing security operations left at least 600 casualties and displaced over 66, 000 people over eighteen months of the most action. The original aim of the group was as a community reaction to the Chebyukk settlement scheme. The scheme, like all other land settlement scheme, was just one ‘big fap job’ [citation not needed] where only the government was left feeling nice and rich.

SLDF ran a parallel administration system and was funded in much the same way as six of the entries on this list, through racketeering, taxation and running protectionist rings. It was also the well armed, with most of the militia carrying AK47s and other types of guns, and with seemingly unlimited access to ammunition. The group used mobile phones, discarding the sim cards after every raid.Rumor has it that the first commander was a former Presidential Guard because the more famous commander, Wycliffe Matakwei Kirui, was just the deputy commande.

Witness accounts detail such as these :

“Once they raid a place, they divide themselves in groups of 12-20 men. Then they surround the area and strike. They are so confident that they at times send warnings before they strike,” says the police officer.

Each of the members is supposed to carry special charms to protect him during an operation.

After surrounding their target, the militia group then blocks all the roads leading to the place as was exemplified during the Kapsokwony raid where the Kaptama/Kapswokony, Kapsokwony/Kimilili and Kapsokwony/Kopsiro roads were all closed.”

In March 2008, the military launched ‘Operation Okoa Maisha’ a large-scale assault to fight off the group. The government also offered an amnesty and KShs 10, 000 for information and surrender. The full title of the operation should have been ‘Operation Okoa Maisha…ha-ha, NOT!’ because the army might have outdone the SLDF. The month before the military operation, the police had uncovered mass graves in the Mt. Elgon forests. …and of course, it sought to outdo the SLDF by carrying out its own massacre to stop the SLDF one. Proving once again that ‘dawa ya moto si maji.’ The militia is estimated to have killed, about 30 people before the well-meaning, deity approved government killed 68 people because, double or nothing.

Successful military campaign huh? Matakwei was killed, the commandant remained and unknown and of the very few who were tried, eight commandants were freed after the government entered a nolle prosequi . The government’s counter-massacre ended the scourge, right? Actually no, in February 2012, the group was said to be regrouping. We are just waiting for the next Mt. Elgon Massacre, let us see who wins this round. My bet is the government remains undefeated in the third round, via technical knock-out…plus, what is a military operation without a few explosives left behind to kill any future militia, or as we prefer them, innocent kids.

#2 Northern Frontier District Liberation Movement (NFDLM) 

Perhaps the most underplayed yet one of the most significant conflicts in Kenya’s history is the ‘Shifta War.’ Recorded in most books and etched in memory as the ‘Shifta menace’, this seeming success of the government propaganda machine overlooks an important militia called the NFDLM. The irredentist militia began in the pre-colonial era, and its exact history has not been well covered.

The Shifta are actually more of an idea than a group and existed as early as the British Military Administration of Eritrea (1941-1952). 4 days before granting the Somaliland areas independence in June 1960, the colonial government declared that all Somali areas should be unified into the Greater Somali. Kenya was granted administration of the Northern Frontier District despite the fact that it was inhabited by ethnic Somalis and an informal referendum had demonstrated their wish to join Somalia.

The Kenya government first considered the NFLDM a s serious threat in 1966 after they used a landmine which “killed two 2 officers and wrecked the vehicle (a police Land Rover).’ The NFLDM was supported by Somalia in training and finance.. The proxy war almost brought Kenya and Somalia to full-scale all-out warSince almost zero information is known of the NFDLM organizational structure, the only possible info can be gleaned from the government reaction. For example, the government confiscated livestock to deny guerrillas access to food and logistical supplies. The state-sanctioned propaganda strategy makes for an interesting read.

The government reaction to the group’s activities was brutal, and was borrowed, almost in intricate detail, from Operation Anvil, the military strategy during the State of Emergency in the 1950s. In fact, declaring a State of Emergency was the first thing the government did. The North Eastern Province (NEP) was closed off to the rest of Kenya hence the lack of evidence of the atrocities committed by both sides. Most accounts suggest  that the government engaged in genocide, as it always does, slaughtering entire villages and ‘vigilization’ pastrolist communities into 14 Manyattas, concentration camps. The villages included passes and fences and all, and of course all the rape and testicle-crunching.internewskenya dot org shifta

This might be the longest running militia in Kenya’s history, as the first real secession of conflict ended in 2000. The war officially ended in 1967 after a peace agreement between Somalia and Kenya, but not before the lesser-known Garbatulla massacre where more than 2, 700 people were killed and buried in mass graves. The few disgraced fighters who managed to avoid being tortured and massacred went home and begun engaging in banditry within the manyattas. Remember the more famous Wagalla Massacre of 1984? That was also part of the conflict, and the government might have used chemical weapons

With five decades of conflict, most of the new militia are content with engaging in the occasional bombing, or shooting, of ‘hostile forces’, ostensibly the Kenya security forces, often warranting extreme reprisals …

–notably, in March 1997, the Ethiopian Shangilla raided the Kenyan side of the border and shot dead over 100 people, including 19 security officers. The skirmishes lasted a whole week, and became a mini-war where they engaged the military and cut off road link. They attacked again in October 1998, and killed 200 members of the Degodia clan, Kenyan Somalis. In 1999, they again attacked, this time with land mines and many times after that…

With the emergence of extremist  Islamist governments in Somalia , the violence quickly returned, and as of 2013, involves various largely unknown militia against security forces. The massacres happen almost daily, and the government swears it will not stop until all of NEP is cleared of its common wish to join the motherland. Okay, it does not swear that aloud, but it has used the NEP for human target practice before.

#1 The Kaya Bombo Raiders

The MRC, remnants of an long-lasting conflict

The MRC, remnants of an long-lasting conflict

You know how there are movies where a group of raiders attack a strategic village and hold it as they fight off government resistance and kill people? Well, it has happened in Kenya…

The Kaya Bombo raiders are the arguably the most structured and best organized entry on this list.

On August 13, 1997, a group of about 200 raiders carrying traditional weapons and covered by foreigners wielding guns, attacked a police post, a police station, and basically anything else at the Likoni Ferry station that had a portrait of Moi in it… They killed 6 officers and stole more than 40 guns. They then went on a violent rampage killing almost indiscriminately, or so it seemed at first. They targeted ‘the mainland communities,’ the tribes that would vote ‘the other way’, in the December elections.

They later retreated to the Kaya Bombo forest, hence the name, when security forces arrived the next morning. The guerrilla attacks did not end, not even after elections ended in December, they continued December of 1998. The police found themselves outmatched by a group that was seemingly coordinated, effective, and almost any other adjective you can use to describe a successful militia. They had had numerous opportunities to practice as Coast politicians jostled for power.

In materials and records that were intercepted during the course of the gang’s activities, a proper military structure, with 278 men in total, was clearly detailed and illustrated. The commanding officer of the group was one Juma Bempa. They had a military structure headed by ethnic Digo men who had served in the police or military. The group also included a retinue of mercenaries and some security forces might have crossed over during the yearlong conflict. 

“An attendance register, records of personnel matters (promotions and demotions, disciplinary actions), and a firearms register that detailed the number of guns, their serial numbers, and a log of who used them”

“… the raiders were divided into different “companies” of fixed composition, and listed the dates of the training given to each group”

“…the second book detailed the raiders’ expenses on food and hospital treatment and included an unsent letter”

If you clicked on the previous link, somewhere in the middle, you will find a detailed analysis of the military structure including the uniform issued to different ranks, and accounts of raiders attacking the post office, shops, homes, and everyone else.

How could a small militia of more than 200 carry out such an effective (because murder) campaign?

The whole gang was the work of KANU politicians exploiting local politics to win the 1997 elections. Most accounts of former gang members, who went on to form the MRC, indicated that similar attacks, a trial run of sorts, had occurred in 1992 but at a smaller scale.

...also, the government will fatten you up, temporarily.

…also, the government will fatten you up, temporarily.

The jury is still out on whether the Mombasa Republican Council is an armed gang, a secessionist group, or a political party. While the courts decided otherwise, the executive still maintains the MRC as one of 33 criminal gangs. The MRC , or as It was first called, the Republican Council, is thought to have been partially inspired by the Kaya Bombo raiders. There is the curious fact that the group was formed as the RC in 1998, around the same time the Kaya Bombo raids subsided, and was also made up, at least originally, of ethnic Digo men.

+ Forty Brothers

This gang is not to be confused with the ‘Forty Two brothers’, another proscribed gang that clearly has two more ‘bros’ than this entry….or the ’40 Ndugus’ which gets zero marks for militia brand differentiation.

Formed in 1998 (again, curiously, around the same time the Kaya Bombo raiders dispersed), the gang would raid homes, rape young women, and steal from the homesteads. Like all other gangs on this list, its signature weapons were crude machetes and traditional weapons, police uniform and the occasional gun. It also operated boats because transportation…

The group used to meet in Changamwe to strategize on its targets. They would hide in caves in Mshomoroni area of Kisauni, which is also the same place they are thought to hide their loot. Residents in the affected areas publicly lynched its leaders and the group fizzled out. Pssst, treasure hunters…? Anyone?

Plus, when do we get the next counter-massacre? What is a good massacre among countrymen?

Owaahh, 2013.


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A Good Kenyan is these: A Suggested Checklist

    A few weeks ago in an online discussion about the forgotten, neglected, unnecessary history of the Mau Mau, a very good Kenyan was kind enough to correct my oversight by telling me thus “…twitpic a photo of your PhD in History so we can believe you.” With that, I closed my Twitter account and threw my Minion, gadget extraordinaire, at the wall for committing the crime of not staying in my educational lane….and it is to that well-meaning Kenyan, a charming and charitable fella who took the time to pack a life lesson in less than 140 characters that I dedicate this..

     A Good Kenyan, trained in a certain trade, should keep within all set limits and lanes of only that trade. In fact, such a Kenyan should leave governing to the governors, and politicking to the misguided ones who do not care much for their lives. Such a well-meaning fella must never refer to anything beyond that which he has been trained for, and can provide proof of graduation from an institution, as an area of expertise. In fact, if you do not have a higher degree in say, political science, you should know better than to comment about the political process. Similarly, law should be left to lawyers with their ‘thereins and jurisprudences.’ All pure, and applied sciences graduates also need keep to their respective science, what is a chemist doing commenting about biochemistry anyway? Where is her ‘bio’ so we can take her seriously? In fact, on a topic of men, where are her relevant genitalia?…and, anyone trained in animal husbandry must never tire of fulfilling said spousal duties.

     A Good Kenyan who seeks to be taken seriously must always either keep to the moral values that he preaches, because the messenger is the message, or produce proof of instruction from a credible, accredited, institution, even if only for a weeklong training. The ‘African’ logic on which these criteria are based is ‘you have a point, yes, but are you:

  1. Instructed in the relevant discipline to offer such an arguably strong and clearly accurate point.
  2.  If the answer to (1) above is yes, are you educated up to, and including, such a level necessary to offer such an opinion?
  3.  If no to (1), please take a seat and eat your crayons, you are retarded and should only be seen, not heard, unless you are ugly, then please go be ugly elsewhere.
  4. If no to (2) above, please keep within the confines of what the educational system told you to be true. Do not question your teacher, or Malkiat Singh, or KIE, or KNEC, or KNUT, or KUPPET, or the BOG, or the PTA, or the PCEA…oh wait, a denomination.


A Good Kenyan, after a 0-16 years in this educational system that would make the deities induction program managers jealous, is trained to think and become an expert in only that which he has written a peer-reviewed, peer-validated, scientific dissertation. Any in the liberal arts do not count, in fact, the liberal arts are nothing but smoke, another one of our misguided investments when we could have been investing in science and engineering and competing with the Asian tigers. We coulda been the African Lions, we coulda been cheetahs, we coulda been giants!

     A Good Kenyan, in limiting his own opinion to that which he has firsthand knowledge in as printed in the media or textbooks, and by a black Kenyan no less, must make it his job to remind others should they stray from their designated lanes. Please, do not speak to me about religion if you are not a theologian, diviner, with a long title of what should be sequential offices meshed into one. Yes, papers, good friend, proof of education. That will take you places, the better if you have been to Harvard a week or so, or if you have MA, or MSc, or higher. 

     A Good Kenyan must only listen to experts and never anyone else even when a child of five, woken up early enough, can offer the same opinion for a much cheaper price (a lollipop should suffice). Even worse, such a child of five would offer the point in a language too simple to be as sophisticated as the language we need to believe an opinion to be true. However, any Kenyan who purports to wow us with their vast vocabulary, be they the scribe Philip Ochieng’ who surely cannot have a point amidst all that buffoonery, or the young budding Waga Odongo who also surely, must only be hiding behind a cloak of a good dictionary, must be notified of our busy schedule that does not allow us to look out for any deeper meaning of words, or prose, or poetry…and what is Gathara doing writing prose anyway, isn’t he a cartoonist? Shouldn’t cartoonists…cartoon or something?

      A Good Kenyan must never join the civil society, and should he misguidedly choose do so, and seek to tell us that we are not being governed well, then we have a public duty to insult him as a ‘stooge of the West, funded by the colonialist.’ This duty must be embodied in the spirit of the Preamble to our constitution, next to our assertion of how much we have loved our not-romanticized freedom fighters. Our government is funded by the West too? Well, that is different, we are with China now. No, wait, we are only still with the West because we will be with China soon. China likes us, China loves us, China only wants us to be happy, China will not ask not to kill each other, China will not come with any more demands other than that we give their companies tenders and host their overpopulation…oh, and not recognize Tibet or Taiwan, or some other T-non-important country, and probably not allow the Dalai Lama to visit. The West is bad, even nature knows, isn’t that where the sun sets anyway? Such vile people! The East, where the morning sun comes from, is the future, you can feel its love if you orient the window of your fabricated suburban gated-community house just right, or if your landlord was kind enough to have done so with the loan money.

     A Good Kenyan should only hazard to contribute to topics in which he or she has a moral, contextual, education, religious, personal, and political interest, and training. All such qualifications must be corroborated for the contribution to matter. For example, in assessing the quality of this piece, shouldn’t the question be, ‘is the scribe a Good Kenyan himself?’ because here, one who speaks badly about the Mau Mau is automatically a Homeguard which, it turns out, is a bad thing. Weren’t the homeguards and chiefs the only learned people to whom we trusted our independence and arable lands? Haven’t they treated us well for the last five decades, like good lords of the manor, and feudal princes, by giving us jobs and letting us stay with our meager, worthless lives?

      A Good Kenyan must always demand that for a comment to be critically assessed, the commenter must have a personal bearing on the matter, interest in humanity does not count, and should never. In fact, anyone who says homosexuality should be decriminalized should be immediately disowned and branded a homosexual, because sexuality determines where you stand on the topic. Catholic priests, for example, should always be regarded as experts on contraception and safe sex, especially in their progressive ideas on condom-usage and moral uprightness….and of course, how to show young trusting males what happens behind the crucifix, the position in the tomb, the real Shroud of Turin.

An expert in swimming, but only in dirty rivers, and even then, only when nude. Get me someone who can swim in shorts, then we can discuss the Olympics.

An expert in swimming, but only in dirty rivers, and even then, only when nude. Get me someone who can swim in shorts, then we can discuss the Olympics.

     A Good Kenyan must never be critical of his government, unless it is fashionable at the time to do so. Such a Good Kenyan must never join a protest for which he has no familial links to, and should he find himself in a worker’s strike, then he is obligated only to learn the first line of the Solidarity Song, and hold hands while the worker’s ruin frisks all the protestors to make sure they are actually poor and indeed of a collective bargain to buy their trade union leader a new car. There are lanes that should never be crossed if we are going to achieve our many visions, such as that of being where Sweden is now in 2068, never mind that Sweden will have had 51 years to be somewhere else by then. Who cares anyway, Sweden can change addresses for all we care…

        A Good Kenyan, blessed with an education by a loving, caring, and honest government, must never ever deviate from said set path. A Good Kenyan must be a Good Kenyan, never bad, even when bad, should always be seen as a Good Kenyan. Any politician who hugs an adversary is to be immediately disowned for betraying the cause, and the community, and the socioeconomic grouping. In fact, were I the Lord of the Manor, Crown Prince of all Arable Lands, Landlord of the Nation, Mistaken Warlord, Prosecuted Prophesied Prophecy, Appointed Representative of the Omnipotent One,  I would declare that my government, in light of its role in protecting free market interests, is rounding up and shooting all petty thieves and freelance assassins. ‘Only the government should steal from and kill the people’, is the number one rule in this free market economy, and if a private citizen must steal, then he must steal enough to pay his dues to the government, and then atone for his sins by joining government.

If he kills, he must either own enough acres that would go to waste were he to be jailed for life or hanged to leave a hole in the economy, or make sure that the death somehow benefits the common good, national security, or the dalliances of the King or his men/women.

The government does not hate competition, as those unqualified armchair analysts might want a Good Kenyan to believe, instead, we believe that private citizens should work hard, pay taxes, love their families, copulate with their spouses, and most importantly, register to vote. It is not necessary to vote, we will do that for you….because we love you.

      A Good Kenyan must remember the cardinal rule, to be etched on the big Kshs 1 billion monument the British government is going to build for our freedom fighters, for pressing the testicles of our freedom fighters, and raping our grandmothers , that a Kenyan is defined by pedigree first, education second, unachievable dreams third, and the stupidity of ‘free thinking’ last.

     Any Good Kenyan who attempts to write satire must warn us that it is indeed satire because we are but mere Muggles, untrained in how to think for ourselves after reading the piece. Surely you cannot expect us to go find Platform 9¾ for we have not been instructed in wizardry. We are trusting people, trusting our mothers to guide us in how we should relate to deities, our teachers to impart knowledge that now determines who we are, politicians to govern and steal, as they should, the media to be upright and accurate, and such. So, we will get offended if we read through thousands of words only to discover you meant the exact opposite.



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Who decides when a Society Should Evolve? A Case of Kenya in the 1800s…

Three intriguing cases made it before the lethargic Kenyan judiciary this week, all three representative of the hypocrisy of our moral (or immoral, if you will) culture, and our pathological tendency to yell generic arguments whenever we are faced with issues that are ‘new’. We are always ready to tell off such things as ‘foreign’ despite the fact that they have been in our society all along. What we do, as a 21st century country stuck in a 19th century mindset, is mistake lack of information for absence of such phenomena. We think that despite Africa being the cradle of man, that that man left and floated on dug-out trees to other continents and got sick before coming back with that sickness which we, as those left behind, now have to grapple with. Are we evolving?

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No, that is not how ancestors did it, we know how those symbols of morality and sacred barbarism lived. Trust us, we know.

Case #1 was filed by a transgender, Audrey, who is seeking to compel the educational system to recognize transgenders. This debate has gained significance over the last few decades, as feminism and liberal ideas on sexuality have spread to the edges of our tiny, polluted planet. If you decide to change your gender today, surgically or just decide to, say, change your name from John to Joyce, the legal process, though lengthy, is permissive.

The process itself is unnecessarily lengthy, perhaps to convince you to quit midway as the wheels of government turn as they did in 2nd century China. The simple switch of the (M/F) is, however,  impossible by current laws. The reasons for this are broad, but the primary one is that the framers of the constitution ‘did not envisage a scenario’ where one could simply switch from being a man to a woman. Never mind that this constitution was drafted at the same time the LGBTI movement was gaining traction and recognition. Kenya, are these your sons and daughters too? The ‘cultural’ background excuse makes for a compelling case.

One is either born a man or a woman, with respective genitalia, as evolution and/or creation has seen fit to divide us as a species. Only, that definition is very limited, it assumes that having certain genitalia automatically assigns you a gender, and ignores the fact that gender is as much a cognitive development process as it is a biological one. It also explains why those born with ‘undefined’ genitalia were either killed or ostracized by our morally upright but seemingly barbaric ancestors.

Case #2 is seeking to have the government decriminalize homosexuality [If you open this link, do not even read the article, jump to the comment section]. This one is not new, it is just that with a judiciary that has had to reel under accusations of being lethargic in its jurisprudence, it should make for an interesting case. The common defence we have is that ‘homosexuality is unnatural, it was brought to Africa by the colonialist, it is a western decadence.’ WRONG! Homosexuality has been rampant in all human society since time immemorial, it is not even limited to human beings, it is present in animals and most probably, extra terrestrials.

This misconception is based on two things. One, that we know all about our ancestors despite the fact that we have made no significant effort to know how our ancestors lived before 1890, and two, that homosexuality and sexual ambiguity can be ‘shipped.’ Are we mistaking the lack of information (about sexuality circa 1800) with the absence of a phenomenon in our culture? In case #3, eleven women were arrested and charged with ‘engaging in unnatural acts.’ Their crime? They had engaged in bestiality with a dog, probably a pimp among equals now, while acting in a porn movie proving once again that Pwani si Kenya. Ignoring the fact that the law on which the charge itself is based is archaic and subjective as to what cultural benchmark we are using, as one man’s best friend is another’s love [sic!], the outrage about the case has been indicative of our collective hypocrisy.

Since January 2013, there have been at least three cases of bestiality but none of them has received as much attention as that of ’11 Women 1 Dog.’ Perhaps the number of participants in this cross-species orgy is the reason why we have made memes and exalted a dog that now has to be an unwilling prosecution witness. In the context of this discourse, I offer that it must be something deeper. In each of the aforementioned cases, the human beings were male, and the animals were either goats or some other domesticated animal. (In Sudan, you are caught loving a goat, you marry it, even pay dowry).

The cases are so common that all you have to do is Google search ‘Bestiality in Kenya‘ and then you can pray to whichever deity you give money about how an imperfect society he created. All these cases are where the person is caught, whether it is with sheep, a cow, a donkey, or (another) goat in April 2013, how many do you think go unreported, or undetected?  In our patriarchal society, the act of a man having sex with an animal is seen as moral depravity, but surprisingly, not at the same level as that of a woman engaging in bestiality. Read this ‘dossier’ on female sex workers being paid a handsome figure for engaging in bestiality. Yes, dear reader, that blog post is about bestiality in porn movies, in Kenya, in 2008!

Again, because the only male in this ’11 Girls 1 Pup’ case is ‘foreign’, we heaped all the blame on the ‘mzungus who bring us such moral decadence’. We transfer our locus of responsibility to other people, as we do in politics and civil society despite the fact that as slaves of Breton Woods Institutions and now China, we are all as foreign-funded as can be…Another likely reason is that the females now considered the junk of our upright and moral society are young curious college girls who were using their bodies, which by right belong to our upright and moral socially acceptable institutions of marriage, whether as a rightful partner or a third party, for money/employment.

Our common ‘Kenyan’ perspectives on prostitution are interestingly stupid, please, do indulge (and perservere the bad grammar) in this Wikipedia entry on the topic. Prostitution is the oldest lasting profession, given that everything else has evolved into something else, such as thieves to politicians, and priests to sodomites (on the one hand, on the other anti-contraceptive, anti-condom messengers). If you think about it, all ofhuman employ is a form of prostitution, you use something you have to provide someone, or society, with something he/she/it needs or wants. It is the same for the blacksmith who uses both his skill and experience as it is for the woman or man who uses her/his genitalia to do the same.

We validate more the person who meets another in a social gathering or on social mediaand they do as they will only if neither gets paid out rightly. If anyone pays you, you are a prostitute….if you listen to the myopic arguments against prostitution, such as those that contributed to the crucifixion the former Nairobi mayor after he suggested legalizing and taxing prostitution and ‘sex work’ in the city, you will constantly hear the argument that it is ‘un-African.’ Prostitution has been present in all of human society since people learnt that these genitalia fit into those ones, and that sex is a human need and want, perhaps the only one that truly matters. It was in African culture before the ‘mzungu’ , perhaps not at the same level of limelight, and certainly not paid incurrency, handbags, or rent as it is now, but certainly in some way… (We sold Mt. Kenya to John Boyes for four goats, go figure the math).

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Me, right now, evolving this article.

Did bestiality exist in Kenyan societies? Of course it did! Was it rampant? We don’t know. How can we know if we do not investigate? ‘Other people’ seem to be doing a better job at analyzing our sexuality history than we are. It is much easier for us to blame ‘the West’ for the breaks in our moral façade because it makes us feel less responsible for ourselves. It also helps deify our ancestors as the symbols of ‘morality and good manners. Generations of individuals who had defined sexuality and gender roles and who would never, ever, look at an animal in an amorous way’ TOTAL BS! Human beings are human beings, whichever planet we came from, and whichever theory of man you believe in, our homogeneity as a species is significant.

We are animals at a basic level, with our own thoughts on our ‘heightened cognitive senses’ which makes every subsequent generation feel superior to the last, and hence, more foolish….and, it is Christianity and other ‘new’ religions that are ‘UnAfrican.’ If we were being purist Africans, we would still be swearing oaths and consulting with seers instead of burning them (Yes, 21st century symbol of progress, we torch to protect society, hhhhmmmm, burning human flesh, the smell of singeing immorality).

So what is the façade? That we have accepted all this ‘Western cultural values’, including religion, fashion, food, and greed (another human instinct, but indulge me for a minute) while hoping that the ‘liberal thinking and moral decadence do not have transferability.’

We want to atone for our blindness by saying that homosexuality, undefined sexuality (cognitive and biological), and such things as bestiality did not exist before the white man explored Africa and brought guns, cocaine, HIV/AIDS, and capitalism.

On the one hand we are willing to do anything for money, including stepping over each other in the process despite the fact that our real African culture was communal. It explains why there was no outrage amongst court poets when the feudal prince went to the Queen’s land where the Prime Minister made all effort to hide him from the media and seemingly, being seen with him.

In our African culture, the true one, not this hybrid one in which we purport to have found an equilibrium between the past and the future, such a slight would not be taken lightly. If your host does not want to show you off, then you are the sidekick hidden in the closet when the wife comes home unexpectedly. As a communal people, a guest got first class experience. In fact, whenever a prominent guest visited your home, you let him sleep with your wife! Okay, just one of your wives…It is how we got Wangu wa Matheri the misogynist from just another wife of a local chief…it is also why your mother will show you off to her chama and slaughter her healthiest chicken when you go to visit.

It is why you had sets of china and cutlery designated for guests only…but thousands of Kenyans bombarded the articles with half-witted, incoherent, fallacious, regurgitated comments and expressed their ‘moral outrage’ at the fact that some media had seen the slight and reported it. In the article about the comments, you can see more comments because, well, we are a vigilante nation.

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Che ‘The Ape’ Guevara…

So, who determines that it is time for a culture to evolve? If a 21st century country validates stupidity by referring to their version of a 19th century mindset, is it evolving or static? How long does it take for a hybrid culture to become mainstream? Is the same culture that considers itself progressive, but laughs when men strip down a woman for wearing as she wills, and is her right to, evolving?

The validation is often that it goes against our African ideals yet our ancestors were by and large comfortable while naked. If you watch that video in the last link, you will hear a woman saying ‘usichukue hiyo kitu‘ [do not record this] and you can tell its more of ‘do not show the rest of the world how evolved we are‘ than ‘save this woman from the animal instincts of a mob.‘ A people so evolved that we have to train people ‘not to strip women.’ Clothes, and this extreme sense of having to be dressed all the time, are the western cultural elements, not the wearing of ‘skimpy clothes.’

The mentality itself is rooted deeply in religion, especially in rural areas where this seeming hybrid culture is still foreign. It validates our common misogyny, unless there has been a case of a man in short shorts’ having to lose them for being irresistible to women, and other men. The act of stripping someone is the height of this misogyny where the validation is that ‘we are teaching her a lesson.’ Such stupidity, in this 21st century Kenya, is the reason why the three cases above will be determined on a non-existent ‘cultural benchmark.’

The same ‘Africanness’ to which we owe clitoridectomy, or as we like to call it, Female Genital Mutilation, to which we quickly revert when we need to pull down ads that are ‘too revealing to children.’ To that culture, the same one where boys pleasuring, nay, masturbating each other was a ‘normal cultural thing’, but was given up at initiation (yes, Kenya, these are your ancestors, the real African ones, not you hybrids). You can read more about just how ‘sexually liberated’ they were here.

These same issues we are facing now are still troubling the Western states we love to hate. Truly evolving societies are breaking down these issues and critically assessing them by first making them mainstream issues and not hiding behind  a façade of moral uprightness. They are first agreeing that for any meaningful debate to take place, all human beings who successfully navigate the arduous journey of a sperm towards the ova, and subsequent imprisonment, have certain inalienable rights and responsibilities.

You can yell that such individuals should be burned at the stake, or burned like this ‘purported witches’ in Kisii (I would request that you watch that video in its  5-minute entirety, it is brutal, but that is Kenya in 2013 where three people are being burned as hundreds watch and cheer). The ‘witch-burning is also so common in modern-day Kenya that you only need google it too.

We can yell all we want, but homogeneity in the human species, or this moral cocoon we think we live in, will never be…

When we decide to first agree that all human beings have free will, and that what one man or woman does in the comfort of their own homes should be between him and his deity, if he is stupid enough to believe in judgement beyond that of his fellow men and women, we might then begin the real, painful, tideous, ‘unnecessary’ process of evolving from 1800 to at least 1903.

We are not evolving; we are merely acquiring technology and more information, and actively making all effort to live in a past that never was, or never existed as we think it did. If anything, we are just robots of consumption, actively swallowing propaganda and advertisements, as we have sermons and religion, without thinking for ourselves.

It is the 21st century since Christ alright, but we are living in our romantic version of Africa in 1850, but we are ‘moving on’ [sic!].  Kenya, are these not your sons and daughters? Who said that nature is one thing, or has one single outcome, preferably the one that the mob agrees with so it can sleep better at night? Isn’t nature the same source to which we owe all that is wrong in our ‘perfect, often-forward-moving society?’ A society that does not evolve, my beloved Kenya, dies.

Owaahh, 2013.


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Hate speech on Social Media: A Case of Misplaced Locus of Responsibility

Social media only features on our daily plate of bad places to hate on each other because it is sexy. It is sexy for the government to be seen as working to inculcate (not restore, we have never been united) true national cohesion and the warm fuzzy feeling of hating each other beyond  tribe and gender. Social media offers the older bureaucrats a chance to show the younger online generation whose boss. The sad thing is that in our peace lobotomy, we have validated it. We feel that the limits of the Bill of Rights apply to situations where we have a responsibility to be responsible. Incitement does not shift the locus of responsibility from the actor unless he or she is a young child or has a mental disability. The end decision of whether to hate your fellow man lies with you and your environment (and if you are religious, your respective deity).

African governments are scared of social media. Social media brought down Hosni Mubarak in less than three weeks despite his desperate attempts to block its use. So now African governments, beginning in Malawi, Zambia, and now Kenya, are now seeking to follow the China model, with less glamour and innovation (The Chinese have the decency to provide Baidu and other alternatives  to control ‘subversion’).

You don't say?

You don’t say?

Hate speech assumes that the reader does not have a responsibility to decide whether to pick up a machete and slaughter his neighbor and burn a church full of people. It assumes that you, as the reader, do not have a choice to decide to stop reading this and close the tab. I owe you a responsibility to be politically correct and to be sensitive to what might read like revolutionary material. You owe me as much responsibility for understanding this, for example, as I owe you for choosing these words. They would be ineffective if you could not understand them, contextually.

In the ‘Mau Mau’ War, hate speech took the form of propaganda pamphlets that were distributed by both sides, and included many forms of expression, including the content of oaths and war songs, this evolved into the implied hate speeches that drove the intrigues of the first government under Kenyatta the Elder, and was perfected under Moi. We lost the script when society kept quiet as Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Koigi wa Wamwere, Wahome Mutahi and others were detained for ‘sedition’ and other such ridiculous crimes. To the people, the state was not to be questioned, peace and sustainability (read self-preservation) were king, the same thing we are going through right now. Until the Second Liberation took place and we all temporarily realized that the ones who say ‘bad things’ need protection. Our view is largely libertarian and communitarian. Libertarians believe that the right to free speech may be limited only for compelling reasons such as fighting words. Communitarians believe in the community’s ‘well-being.’

We all know what happens when we let the government, or anyone in a position of power, infringe on the rights of a few people. At first, it is all bliss and calls of ‘JAIL THE TRAITORS OF OUR COSMETIC PEACE AND NATIONAL COHESION!’ ‘JAIL THOSE MYOPIC BACKWARD PEOPLE WHO ARE ONLY TELLING US WHAT WE THINK OF IN THE COMFORT OF OUR OWN HOMES AND MINDS.’ Before long, all is lost, and now a typographic error that accidentally connects someone’s name with the word ‘stupid or incompetent’ qualifies as a capital offence. Is this it? This cannot happen? It already is at an advanced stage. The press is now too tainted by corporate influence to matter, the civil societies are no longer civil or focused on society, the government is just being well, the government (the garb has changed, the body is still the same despite going on mandatory ‘cabinet lift and devolution’ cosmetics). We have so much coffee we should be waking up to but we are busy uprooting it to build gated communities. Voltaire said that if you want to know who controls you, just check whom you are not allowed to criticize.

Grumpy cat needs no caption.

Grumpy cat needs no caption.

Are we saying that it is okay to think this things at home and probably kill your neighbor while at it, but never ever post it online? It is the same misguided logic that has validated misogyny in rap culture; the idea that the representation owes more to the source than the source does the idea. We have a personal responsibility in how we relate to the rest of society. However, numerous studies in cognitive influence have shown that we all tend to move towards what the environment offers. We need to move from what is the influence of social media on Kenyan culture to what is the role of Kenyan culture in influencing and shaping social media. We are so afraid of ourselves that we are willing to risk making hardcore criminals of everyday Kenyans who need therapy in diversity and forgiveness.

When a blogger’  was hauled in the courts for allegedly mentioning ‘specific names with specific allegations’, we all kept quiet and validated it despite the subliminal warning. The King’s courtiers know how powerful a tool it can be  and will now use it to gain mileage and traffic

In the letter alluded to in the link above, the NCIC supposedly wrote “You have been posting threatening messages on your face book account which are intended to cause hatred/violence among communities in Kenya.”  A lethargic NCIC  is now considering going after those using ‘sign language and symbols’ to “..spread offensive remarks that could lead to violence..” The operational word there is ‘could’,  because that is what our peace lobotomy has come to. It also means that before long, someone will be standing on the dock answering to charges of showing another the middle finger. Who knows, maybe someday we will jail the dead victim too.hate-speech

Being responsible is two-way. It does not only mean reporting those you do not agree with-however myopic, backward, stupid, and wrong it might be-it also means controlling what you read online. The mark of the free mind is whether yone can read without being influenced. You do know that no one is coercing you to ‘Read More’ or hit ‘Share’ or ‘RT’? Better still, no one is holding a gun to your head to prevent you from blocking anyone who posts things you do not agree with. Actually, that is precisely the reason those buttons exist. Ours is partly due to the fact that we are all Moi Orphans, education-wise, and we feel like we now have too much freedom. Social media offers us all an outlet, but it is just that, an outlet. The real hate speech is in our minds, in our homes, in how we secretly think of each other.

We need not look further than the people whose government structure and social habits we have so blatantly aped. The US Supreme Court in R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul (1992) ruled in favor of the youth who had burned the cross-sign of the KKK on a front lawn of a black family. It ruled that by prosecuting him on a law that limited free speech rights, the state of Minnesota had violated his rights. The implication? The court did not rule on the act, which was criminal and should have fallen on the class of ‘willful destruction of property’ but ruled that the law cannot focus on motivation, the thinking that results in criminal behavior.

The truth about hate speech

The truth about ‘hate speech’ on social media

While we have hurled about 10 people in court for hate speech on social media, whatever that is, we have prosecuted one person for the (modest estimate) of 1, 100 deaths in 2007/8? …and I really want to point out our validation in the recent elections, but I know you are already thinking it. Had we already punished any of the people who committed the 2007/8 genocide, because that is what it was, perhaps we could have asked them if they were ‘driven to kill by hate speech’ or they are just downright brutal and senseless murderers who are still walking free. In no time, we will not breathe online on any social policies that are poorly implemented for fear of being on the wrong side of political correctness. Make no mistake, if this were the 1980s, we are on the government side, cheering on while it starts by plucking out, with our help, people whose only crime is perceived stupidity, as it rubs its hands and prepares to tell us how much we don’t need these freedoms we enjoy.

The joke is that most of the people spewing hate speech on social media are actually Kenyans in the Diaspora . What are we going to do, wait for them to disembark from JKIA and haul them before our lethargic justice system? Are we going to block them? We should, but are we helping anyone? Won’t they just adopt other pseudonyms and call us names? Most of these people live in countries where ‘hate speech’ is not what we think it is, expression is everything. The governments of most of those countries have followed a different model, choosing instead to be efficient in how they deliver services to the people, focusing less on cosmetic surgeries, and investing into efficient propaganda machinery.

Keep calm.

Keep calm.

Free thought/speech is not love, it is not about feeling the warm fuzzy feeling inside for your neighbor or brother. Free thought is not about supporting the government or the opposition, or simply opening your mouth to avoid halitosis. It includes these, but it is not all about them. Hate is as much a part of free expression as love is. Hate cannot be washed away by shocking the ‘hater’ into silence by jailing a few ‘like-minded’ individuals. Hate is taught, it is acquired from our environment, our educational process, our social and political history and structures.

So, go ahead dear reader, think about killing someone, and hating them, and hating the politicians they support and the way they conduct their everyday lives, hate on their cultures and the way they breath but do not post it. That is the new Kenya for you, think it, but do not say it (you can do it though, we do not care much about that).



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